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Culinary Book For A Beginner

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone!

I am a food lover and been wanting to learn more about cooking.
The problem is i don't have enough money to go to a culinary school.
So now i am thinking to just rely on books and practice my skills at home.
But i am having a dilemma which book to get.

Which do you think should i buy? Professional Cooking by Le Cordon Bleu or Professional Chef by Culinary Institute Of America?

Also, please recommend some good books besides these ones that i mentioned

Thank you!

(Hope this topic has never been posted and i apologize if i didn't have a proper introduction to this site):talk:
post #2 of 28
Could you go more into what kind of stuff you want to learn?

I wouldn't classify either of them as for beginner cooks.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 28
I agree with Phatch. these books are written with assumption you are familiar with all cooking termonology.. Read Fanny Farmer cookbook, Joy of Cooking and Practical Cooking. These book are all classics and they start with teaching you proper procedures and termonology. All are available in Library so give them a free trial. Forget Haute Cuisine and what you see on T V learn the basics.
post #4 of 28
There's a lovely little book called The Basics by Filip Verheyden. It is indeed basic--it explains a lot of culinary terms and techniques and has good core information and recipes. Another plus is, on the page opposite the recipe/instruction, there's a beautiful photo of what the food should look like, which I think is helpful if you're just starting out. You might also want to check out
post #5 of 28
I would consider getting Shirley Corriher's Cookwise (she also apparently is doing a companion Bakewise). It gives you the science behind the recipes--why things happen the way things happen and how to use that knowledge to your advantage. Wouldn't be without Cookwise--gotta get my hands on Bakewise!

The books you mentioned are really meant to be used as textbooks in culinary classes and, as such, probably don't go into as much of the why and how as you might like.
Pastry Chef Online
Pastry Methods and Techniques
We're all home cooks when we're cooking at home.
Pastry Chef Online
Pastry Methods and Techniques
We're all home cooks when we're cooking at home.
post #6 of 28
Dear Headbanger,

It would be helpful if you could describe your current cooking abilities and say something about which types of cuisines you find most interesting. If you're interested in a survey of techniques and recipes as they apply to American "fine-dining" at the student professional level -- the CIA and LCB books are okay as far as they go. They have strengths and weaknesses. While they don't require actual classroom instruction to be helpful, neither will teach you to be a really good cook with a lot of effort. In other words, they're just books -- probably most helpful for the intermediate cook looking to strengthen her or his grasp of fundamental techniques. As a recipe source, they're student cooking -- slightly dumbed down and already passe in terms of the new combinations at the cutting edge of International cuisine.

If you're an advanced beginner or barely intermediate cook, it's hard to beat Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It has aged somewhat, but the reasons for and technique of trussing a chicken haven't changed. If you already have advanced or professional skills, you don't need it.

It's been almost a week since you've posted and you haven't responded to any of the replies that have trickled in. Without further information from you, it's impossible to supply much help. But if you want it, it's available.

post #7 of 28
I'm in the same boat you're'll want to look at a few books....but each is used for "different" things.

Recently, I came across a pretty cheap book that I believe is worth it. It's called "Culinary Boot Camp" a guy wrote it after attending the CIA's 5 day boot camp. It includes tons of recipes that they made, and walks you through each, with explainations, etc. etc. based on "skills" learned. walk through the book learning "skills" and apply them to recipes. I find it very good.

However, to get MORE indepth to each of the skills, and the plethora of research and recipes to really learn about each skill/recipe in depth, Mastering the Art of French Cooking is good....its segmented a little different...almost by "ingredient" which doesnt lend much to a "course". In other words, you can't pick up MTAoFC and do it front to back in order, and it really "teach" you skills in that fashion.

Then there is escoffier and Larousse books (wish they made these in electronic format!). I don't have these but they are on my christmas list..I just spend an hour reading them every weekend at B&N (they are rather pricey and kind of useless without the basic skills and techniques)

Check out Culinary Boot camp though, its not a "thick" book by any means. I actually bought it because I was thinking about taking the boot camp (and still am) but never opened it until this weekend...and then i went " i had this book all along and it's what I've been looking for! I can do this book front to back and they actually explain some history, techniques, etc. "

I should add, that each section gives you a "menu" of food to cook a meal, in which you use the skills you've "learned". its flexible enough to pick a few different sides with the main "dish" too. because, in the class, everyone cooks the protein it seems, then different groups make different sides, so you can pick and choose which side recipes you want to make.

for instance, the first day is:

Chicken Breast Provencal - this "everyone" cooks.

then 5 or 6 different "teams" cook a different side, mix of veggies and starches.
- Buttered sugar snap peans
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Sauteed zucchini
- Braised red cabbage
- glazed carrots
- rice pilaf
- potato puree

these recipe will cover what information is in the "chapter"'ll learn how to make a stock, how to sautee, basic knife skills, and a little about sauces.

have a look inside the book

Amazon Online Reader : Culinary Boot Camp: Five Days of Basic Training at The Culinary Institute of America

also, just found a video...
The Best of Culinary Boot Camp - DVD @ VMS-Online

but can't vouch for just found it searching...but I might pick it up.
post #8 of 28
Unless your interest is largely historical, don't wast your money on Escoffier. There are much better recipe and instructional books from the pre WWII era -- with a much higher percentage of usable and/or adaptable recipes. Two in particular: The first is "La Bonne Cuisine" by Madam E. Saint-Ange (in print, widely available); and the second is "Modern French Culinary Art" aka The Great Book of French Cuisine by Pellaprat. If you choose to buy Pellaprat, the latest edition (edited by Jeremiah Tower) is NOT the best. The earlier editions have more recipes and much better illustrations -- although Tower's introduction and editing are useful. Alibris always has quite a few copies going.

FWIW, these two books together were the undrlying French "classical" influence for Chez Panisse (combined with other things, of course). Paul Aratow was/is a huge devotee of "La Bonne Cuisine," and Jeremiah Tower cut his teeth on Pellaprat -- while he was learning to cook and then running the kitchen at CP.

Larousse has a lot of books out. "The Gastronomique" is an interesting resource and belongs in every large collection. But David Paul Larousse's books on soups and sauces are excellent practicums -- not to be confused with "The Gastronomique."

post #9 of 28
These are all such great suggestions, thank you! I'm excited to read Shirley Corriher's Cookwise and Culinary Boot camp. I enjoy learning about the reasons behind a recipe. Thank you! Emily
post #10 of 28
I'm in the minority but I desperately disliked Cookwise. Granted, I had read Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking a bit prior to reaking Cookwise, so my well was tainted.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #11 of 28
I just went to a Ross store in So. Cal and picked up Betty Crocker cook book for $6 and Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook for $8. I am hunting through TJ MAxx and Ross for some All Clad stainless pots. So far no luck. But the cookbooks are nice. :bounce:
post #12 of 28
Thank you .
post #13 of 28
Hi Phil, what didn't you like about Cookwise? Would you recommend Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking?

Thanks, Emily
post #14 of 28
McGee gives so much more information. Wider ranging and deeper. And the recipes in Cookwise were awful. McGee gives no recipes.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #15 of 28

Forgive me for butting in, but Harold McGee, with his emphases on how things work, and how ingredients go together, is perfect for you. Definitely a book that should be in your library.

Something else you might think about, considering the restrictions of your diet, is seeing what you can do in terms of cooking processes which add a lot of flavor in themselves I'm referring specifically to smoking over wood, and grilling over charcoal and/or wood. These could certainly add a lot of interest to your diet and the pleasure you take cooking.

post #16 of 28
I just put "On Food and Cooking" on hold at the library- I can't wait to read it! The summary sounds great, thank you!

I feel very comfortable working with grains (rolls, doughnuts, pretzels, bagels, crackers, tortillas, cookies, etc.), I have plenty more I could learn in that area but I'm craving a flavor boost with our main dishes and it sounds like these books will reall help in that area.

BDL- Interesting idea to look into different cooking processes, I'll add that to my to do list.

Thanks! Emily
post #17 of 28
RPMCMurphy- I just started reading Culinary Boot Camp yesterday based on your suggestion and love it! I got a few great tips and really improved my saute'd chicken last night.

BDL- I added tomatoes to my sauce last night as well and it was the best sauce I've made so far! Thank you- the flavor was amazing!
post #18 of 28
i got a better one for ya. and its....FREE. similiar to culinary boot camp. I just started listening to you listen to podcasts at all?

Free Culinary The cooking podcast and blog that teaches you how to cook like a professional chef!

on the site its a little confusing, but go back to the earliest episodes (he has 7 episodes out now ranging from knife skills, to sauteeing, to braising, etc.) its a GREAT compliment to culinary boot camp.

just click the "play" link at the bottom of each episode. (of if you have itunes they are on there too)
post #19 of 28
Interesting website, thanks for the link!

post #20 of 28
You might look into cooking classes offered through community education. These are often presented by local chefs or home ec teachers who volunteer their time, so cost is minimal, often just the price of materials. This gives you hands on practice & confidence building, plus professional coaching. Many cookware stores schedule regular demos and offer classes as well. With any of these, you can pick and choose according to your culinary interests and budget. Another way to gain knowledge is to find your self a kitchen mentor. Someone who would enjoy tutoring you in exchange for your able assistance with the prep and cleanup.

Don't forget the cooking programs on the Food Network and Fine Living. Many of those shows are very educational, especially in demostrating skills, techniques and shortcuts.

I wish you much success, and many years of happy food adventures. :)
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
post #21 of 28
I have been reading this book called The Whole Truth Eating and Recipe Guide. It talks about nutrition and then includes easy to prepare meals that are real good and healthy. You can read up on it at: The Whole Truth Eating and Recipe Guide | PeopleJam

The marketing company I work for is actually working on a campaign for People Jam. It's a great place for reviews and advice. They have lots of good cooking articles/blogs/and reviews that have helped me learn more about the craft.

Hope that helps!
post #22 of 28
So nice to see Pellaprat mentioned. When I was in cooking school so many years ago it was my bible. Lost it in one of my many many moves and now that I have been reminded of it must replace it.
post #23 of 28
im just like you, but here are some books you might want to checkout. culinary artistry, flavor bible, food lovers companion, professional chef 8th edition. This is what ive started out with, hope it helps out somewhat....good luck...goodday
post #24 of 28
Falling apart as it is, I still have Henri Paul Pallipratts Modern French Culinary Art circa. 1959. The pictures are some of the best ,when it comes to classic presentation, unfortunatly this type of presentation has outpricedi tself and MOST culinary school graduates today cant do this type of Chef Decorateur work anyway. :roll:
post #25 of 28
La Technique and La Methode - oversize paperback by Jaques pepin. Both out of print but used copies available online.

Inexpensive and excellent.
post #26 of 28
The books have been combined into one called, I think, "Complete Technique." It's still in print and available with a DVD of cuts culled from his shows which illustrate the techniques and methodes in question. Personally, I didn't care for La Technique when I first read it back in the day -- but Pepin is very good on TV, so presumably the DVD is a help.

post #27 of 28
Annoyingly, the 2-DVD set, called something like "The Complete Pepin," is extremely incomplete: it's clear there is material missing from the original show this was based on, and I don't think it was as comprehensive as the book The Complete Techniques. The DVD set is also badly organized, so that it's a bit difficult to navigate, and you end up watching one 30-second bit and being sent straight back to the main menu.

That said, there's a great deal to be said for watching someone that good at classical technique demonstrate it up close and personal -- and being able to watch it again and again.

(Incidentally, if you're one of the crowd who like to sneer at Pepin, be sure to check out the several on-line instructional videos on how to break down a chicken that have been referenced here in the last week, then compare to Pepin. Note that (a) he knows the difference between deboning and breaking down a chicken -- and in this set he does teach both, (b) he doesn't teach you to make a zillion little hatch-marks while trying to find a joint, (c) he suggests that you probably do want to eat the oyster rather than throwing it in the trash, and shows proper technique for retaining it on the thigh, (d) he's a great deal faster and smoother.)
post #28 of 28
I'm assuming you're American so my suggestions may not apply but Delia Smiths "Complete Cookery Course" is my kitchen bible. Whenever i'm stuck Delia always sorts me out! Her "How To Cook" volume is also great for beginners.
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